Editor’s Note: It gives me great pleasure to welcome Allison Fine to Philanthropy Women as a guest contributor. Allison is the author of multiple books including Momentum: Igniting Social Change in the Connected Age and The Networked Nonprofit. A former Senior Fellow at Demos, Allison specializes in the intersections of online activism and democracy-building.
Exactly a year ago, millions of women across the country created the Resistance. We have marched and protested, shared our outrage using hashtags such as #metoo, #yessallwomen #nastywomen and called (and called and called) Congress. Now it’s time to shift from powering the Resistance to creating the Renaissance. However, there is one huge barrier, the “final frontier” as philanthropist Ruth Ann Harnisch calls it: our discomfort with money and power.
“How do you get movements to scale, while at the same time keeping them based on relationships?” asks Leah Hunt-Hendrix, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Solidaire. It’s a question central to many progressive movements that want to help communities grow from within.
Solidaire formed in 2013, inspired by the Occupy Wall Street Movement, the Arab Spring, and anti-austerity protests in Europe. These disparate movements did not seek narrow policy change; instead, they sought to question—and remake—their societies, disrupting systemic inequality and injustice.
Just as I was remarking on Teresa Tanzi’s courage and how it led to an important victory for women and girls, comes news that the episode is bearing more fruit in terms of raising awareness and taking action.
Adding to the momentum of Teresa Tanzi and other state legislators, Time Magazine is spotlighting 7 female legislators from across the country who are collectively voicing their concerns about sexual harassment, and calling for states to lead the way with creating safer, harassment-free environments for all people.
The piece was cowritten by Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, South Carolina; Rep. Daneya Esgar, Colorado; Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, California; Sen. Sara Gelser, Oregon; Rep. Renitta Shannon, Georgia; Rep. Teresa Tanzi, Rhode Island; and Rep. Litesa Wallace, Illinois.
The news is definitely not all good. But here and there, victories are being won for women and girls. This past week in my home state of Li’l Rhody, we saw a sexual harassment scandal in the state capital blossom into a resignation of an offensive ranking Democratic party official, Joe DeLorenzo. As representative Teresa Tanzi said on Facebook regarding DeLorenzo’s resignation: “This is how we do it. Stand up, speak up and do so relentlessly. And unapologetically.”
When I became interested in women’s philanthropy, one of the first questions I wanted to answer was about who started the funding of feminist-strategy giving. It was surprising and disheartening to learn that there were very few accounts of the history of women’s funding for women. So imagine my delight when I heard about the publication of Joan Marie Johnson’s book, Funding Feminism: Monied Women, Philanthropy, and the Women’s Movement, 1870-1967. Her work in creating this history performs the desperately-needed public service of raising the profile of historical women who paved the way for gender equality, and a world where feminist leadership would set higher standards for civil society.
The title What Happened can be taken two ways: “This is how it went down,” and, “How did this unexpected, horrendous, and still mystifying result obtain? WTF Happened?” Clinton covers both, and is finally able to mention, now that the election is done, the role gender played.
In addition to the female factor, here is the short list of reasons Clinton enumerates that caused her defeat: race, the pseudo scandal of her emails, voter rage and desire for change, the media, fake news, the Russians, Comey, and Bernie. Plus, it is rare for a party which has held the presidency for two consecutive terms to win a third. Moreover, as Clinton points out several times, she won the popular vote—as did Al Gore in 2000—suggesting that the electoral college is a poor mechanism for expressing the national political will. To the above autopsy, add Republican voter suppression and gerrymandering.
It’s always good to start the week learning about the launch of a new gender equality nonprofit. Tomorrow at Georgetown University, Women on the Map (WOMAP), an international, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the role of women and girls in fields of technology and foreign affairs, will officially launch. To celebrate the launch, WOMAP will host an expert panel discussion on how technology can empower women and girls. Following the panel, a photo exhibition will be unveiled which celebrates the history of female trailblazers from around the world who have contributed to women’s rights, peace and security as well as international business, development, diplomacy, and public service.
Timing couldn’t be better. Today, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced it will give $20 million over the next three years to empower women’s organizations globally.
The news comes on the same day that Equal Measures 2030 released a Gender Report along with the Gates Foundation and ONE Campaign Coalition at the United Nations General Assembly, taking place this week in New York.
Some of the new funding from the Gates Foundation will go toward better research and training, as well as multiplying support for grassroots activism in the gender equality sector of development.
I’ve been listening to Hillary Clinton’s What Happened in spurts over the past few days, and it’s time to start sharing some of the highlights. In her own voice on audio, Clinton speaks on a wide range of topics related to her political life. In particular, Clinton speaks with regret about taking speaking fees from large financial corporations and analyzes how the alt-right’s slandering the Clinton Foundation skewed the election.
I am now on Chapter 9, and this is when What Happened gets very relevant to philanthropy. I highly recommend listening to the book on audio — it really helps to have the words spoken by Hillary Clinton, who is destined for legendary status in the history of women’s advancement, whether she won the presidency or not.
One big step forward for the Republican party, one big step backward for women’s equality in political leadership. The graph here kind of says it all — we’re back to a Republican president and low, low numbers of women in cabinet leadership positions.